Prepare yourself, Champaign-Urbana. Something wicked is coming this way. A wicked fusion of backwoods country, old-time blues and southern-soaked soul, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is performing tonight at the Canopy Club.
The band, consisting of husband and wife duo Reverend and Breezy Peyton (guitar/vocals and washboard, respectively) and the Reverend’s brother Jayme (drums) spent a large part of 2006 on the road, traveling steadily for six months. During this time, the Big Damn Band has worked to spread the infectious sound of their new record, Big Damn Nation. The record, the band’s second release, is an outrageous, entertaining concoction of country tales. The band is greatly inspired by both their rural upbringings and the old blues performers of the early 20th century. “Older than Muddy Waters, way before all of that,” the Reverend said about the band’s influences. Think Deliverance, only not quite as frightening, and set to a frenetic beat. The first track, the spirited “Old Man Boogie,” tells the tale of the brothers’ father showing up drunk to a live show.
From the Peyton brothers’ humble beginnings in rural Indiana, the Big Damn Band has gone on to develop a considerable niche in today’s music scene, due in part to their eclectic, rambunctious live shows – so rambunctious that live chickens have been known to make appearances on the Big Damn Band stage.
“We’re an acoustic blues band. You know that really sad, cry-on-the-porch kind of music – we’re nothing like that. Our live show is like a dance show. It’s Saturday night, jerk house, party music,” the Reverend said.
Over the past few years, the Big Damn Band has brought their slow-cooked brand of funk all over the nation.
“My brother loves South Dakota; Breezy loves North Carolina. Central Illinois has been great. The Canopy Club is one of our favorite places to play. People have been really kind,” the Reverend said.
Along with playing shows across the country, traveling in a “giant ’95 Chevy conversion truck,” the Big Damn Band has appeared at prestigious festivals such as SXSW and Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Through touring, the band has had the opportunity to connect with a wide variety of people.
The Reverend said, “We love the people, we love the fans. We meet a lot of interesting musicians. It’s kind of inspiring, being on the road and getting to play with and know artists we admire.”
The Big Damn Band has had the chance to play with some of their own personal heroes, including Robert Belfour. Tonight, they’ll be sharing the Canopy stage with the Flatland String Band.
A major milestone for the band was this year’s European tour. This experience resonated deeply with the Reverend. He said the European audience “really loved it. They were really perceptive. Going to it, you’re not sure what’s going to happen. They were excited to see an American band play American roots music … it was a magical experience.”
This gracious and humble attitude is what makes the members of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band so engaging. Talking to the Reverend, it is easy to observe that he is passionately pursuing what he loves and is doing so with great gusto. Every experience is part of the ride. During his on-the-road interview with buzz, the Reverend remained calm, attentive, considerate and cheerful even when he drove the tour van past the exit he needed to take. His appreciation for the job he does and the people around him is extremely evident.
“We know so many bands that just go from show to show, not taking advantage of the time in between. We like to adventure,” the Reverend added cheerfully.
Just log on to the band’s photo blog at www.bigdamnband.com. There you can indulge in an eloquent story, threaded together by both photographs and text. It’s a glance into what life is like on the road from show to show, and everything that falls in between. You can see passionate musicianship, camaraderie, and family love that is shared by all that surround the Big Damn Band.
So what’s next for the Big Damn Band in ’07?
According to the Reverend, “We’ll be in the studio in February. Maybe record an EP record. We hope that our fans spread the word, hope to go to some new places, maybe even back to Europe.”
Check out Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band (with the Flatland String Band) tonight, Jan. 18, at Canopy Club. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $5.